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Fiery Hanukkah celebration lights up Long Island
Mingled cries of “Wow!” and “Whoa!” rose from the crowd of more than 100 children and parents celebrating the sixth night of Hanukkah Monday, as fire performer Benjamin Reynolds sent a ball of fire blazing from his mouth as though he were a human dragon.
“It’s exciting. Daring!” said Eileen Baker of Commack, watching Reynolds’ 40-minute show in the parking lot of the Commack Jewish Center along with her daughter, Avery, 9. “I feel like saying, ‘Ouch,’ ” she said, as Reynolds lifted a blazing torch above his head and plunged it into his mouth, extinguishing it with his tongue.
Chabad of Mid-Suffolk brought Reynolds, 27, to Long Island from Boston as the headliner in an evening of holiday activities that also included doughnuts, latkes, and, of course, the traditional menorah lighting that inspired the night’s out-of-the-box entertainment. “The idea of Hanukkah is that a small amount of light dispels a lot of darkness,” Chabad's Rabbi Mendel Teldon said. “We thought, ‘Let’s take it to the full extent – let’s do full-on fire entertainment.’ ”
Reynolds' foray into “playing with fire” began when he attended Ithaca College, majoring in classical music. While there, he joined the circus club. “Gotta have your extra-curricular,” he said. He first learned to juggle clubs, which led to juggling torches.
Reynolds twirled a blazing staff, swashbuckled using a flaming sword, swung balls of fire on chains, and ate and breathed fire.
“This boy is crazy,” said Adam Brier, 42, of Smithtown, who brought his two children to the show and found himself trying to capture the fire breathing for them on his smart phone. “Bravo! Bravo!” he yelled after the finale.
“It was really cool,” said Adam Pearsall, 12, of Commack. “It made me speechless.”